The Fifth Be-Attitude of Gifted Elders ~ Nurture Your Poetic Soul, Emotional Intelligence, a Request


The past summer and early fall was a grace-filled time for me. Not only was I gifted with several weeks to spend with our treasured grandson; additionally, I had the chance to re-connect with some very dear friends from years ago. The lives of the six members of their family life are interwoven with mine into cherished memories – as students, as friends, as participants in our wedding. After a lovely, fall lunch in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York with the oldest daughter, she shared with me the poem below by Mary Oliver.


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

     I confess that I have not been nurturing my poetic soul much lately. I have not spent the time lost in words, or nature, or images. It takes the jarring of lines such as those above to bring me back to the hunger for poetry that needs to be satisfied in order to restore my balance. Other paths to nourishing our poetic souls are found in music, in art, in any of the creative worlds, either natural or crafted by humans. In gratitude for the student who brought me back, I offer this as the fifth be-attitude of gifted elders – nurture your poetic soul. 

What about you? Do you feel as I do? How many times do we stop in the middle of a crowd, where we perceive the light resting softly on a branch, a blossom, or a sculpture? How often do we listen to the feelings forming words inside us that create the images and metaphors that describe the awe that we feel as a result of what we behold? When do we take the time to sit in the warmth of the waning autumn sun with the lines of our favorite poet before us? If you are held in the grasp of the present business of our lives – as am I, probably not often enough.

     The theme for this month’s Hoagies Gifted Blog Hop is Emotional Intelligence, defined by Mayer and Salovey (1997, p. 5) as, ” the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”  In my experience, poetry is a direct conduit to the depths of our emotions and to my intellectual growth. This may not be true for all, since individuals have different strengths and therefore, I believe that we each access our emotions in different ways – through our hands, through our ears, through our other senses, through other media, and in other ways.

That brings me to the request I have for you, my readers. I am interested in learning how gifted elders nourish their poetic soul and access their emotional intelligence. Would you share your stories with me? They can be your own or stories of others, elders who you have known. Please feel free to write them here by attaching a comment, or send me a personal message on Facebook (Navan Gifted). I will not share your words without your consent and all stories will remain anonymous. Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing!


Oliver, M. (2005). Mindful. In Why I wake early. Boston MA: Beacon Press.

Mayer, J. D. & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence?  In P. Salovey & D.J. Sluyter (Eds.) Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications (pp. 2-31).  New York: Basic Books.

Photo credit: Poetry, Riccardo Cupinni, on Flicker, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).


 This blog post is a part of the November Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop. Read more about Gifted and Community by clicking on the link above.

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